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Elegant, sexy cocktail party - appetizer suggestions wanted

I'm having an "elegant" and "sexy" cocktail party and need some menu ideas. I'm serving a signature cocktail - a vodka-Lavendar martini-like drink. I just want to serve easy nibbles, possibly passed - no plates required and nothing messy. Any suggestions/ideas? Thanks so much in advance!

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  1. Gougeres are great to serve. They are easy to make and can be made ahead and reheated. Also I just made cherry tomatoes caprese for a party (just slice the top off the tomatoes, scoop out a little of the seeds, add some salt and balsamic, a small chunk of mozzarella and a basil leaf and that's it!)

    1. Not all of these will meet your criteria but many will. Some real keepers on this thread.


      1. Smoked Oysters --------


        1. lamb lollipops- little rib lamb chops- delicious!

          1. Here are Don Letendre's top 5 Valentine's Day recipes (I think they would work great for a cocktail party)


            And here are a number of valentine appetizers posted on Recipe Zaar:


            1. elegant/sexy apps I've used that work well passed or stationed are:

              endive spears topped with a slice of seared duck breast and a few drops of of mango or orange gastrique (could sub a fruited honey or chutney)

              baby potatoes stuffed with creme fraiche and topped with caviar (domestic is fine for this preparation)

              tuna tartar on toasted pita triangles drizzled with coriander/chili oil

              I have tons in this vein...let me know if you need more or if there is a particular ingredient you want to use

              1. Thank you so much for all the suggestions so far! I'm going to check out the links and will report back if I have other questions and also what I'm going to serve! Thanks again - thse are great.

                1. Po-ke Cups - filo cups filled with a mix of diced raw tuna, diced green onion, diced water chestnuts, and shots of toasted sesame oil and darl soy sauce.

                  Rabbit in a Log - rabbit sausage links quartered lengthwise and cut about 2" long; each piece wrapped in puff pastry and baked golden.

                  Lamb Empanadas - chopped seared lamb and sauteed diced onion baked in pastry triangles.

                  Miniature crab cakes (1" diameter) with a dab of Chipotle-Lime Aioli.

                  1. Roast a beef tenderloin, slice it, and you can make small sandwiches with really good bread. Just horseradish sauce is all you need, though you could fancy them up even more.

                    I also love these. They might be a bit more retro than you want, but they are always wildly popular when I make them and they go great with cocktails:

                    BAKED CHEDDAR OLIVES

                    2 cup grated Sharp cheddar
                    1 cup flour
                    1/4 cayenne
                    8 T softened butter
                    40 small green olives with pimento, drained and patted dry

                    - Stir 1st three ingredients together
                    - Work in softened butter to form dough
                    - Drop dollop of dough on wax paper and place olive in middle
                    - Flour hands and roll olive in between your palms to cover olive
                    - Place all olives on a cookie sheet
                    - Bake 15 minutes
                    - Serve warm

                    1. Chocolate-covered grapes, maybe dusted with some fleur de sel or chile powder.

                      1. Figs wrapped in prosciutto, with a little cheese in there. I like to throw them on the grill to warm up, but they're tasty at room temp.

                        Similarly, asparagus spears wrapped in prosciutto.

                        1. Wasabi Lime Crab Salad in cucumber cups

                          Grilled figs wrapped in Serrano Ham

                          Asparagus Parmesan Pastry rolls

                          Cauliflower Puree & Caviar on cloverleaf potato crisps

                          Smoked salmon, Creme fraiche & chive on Kettle Chips

                          Leek & Gruyere tart

                          Shallot Cherry Confit with a wedge of Manchego & a fresh baguette

                          1. you can't go wrong with gougeres as mentioned above. This weekend I saw a recipe with chopped olives in them instead of the cheese and it looked good. Sorry I can't remember where I saw it. . . groan.

                            Including seasonal things would be great. Blanched sugar snap peas with something creamy piped into them would be nice (goat cheese mixed w mascarpone, or the latter with lots of fresh herbs mixed into it)

                            some duck confit stuffed into the gougere

                            fig anchoide - there's a recipe on the thread about what to do w figs on this board

                            the little corn pancakes on this website (in the sidebar) with the avocado relish were delicious (I just tried them plain) but they would be excellent vehicles for shrimps or crab salad

                            shooters of iced gazpacho or chilled cucumber soup

                            Hollowed out cherry tomatoes with julienned olives (buy pitted, you'd be surprised how fast it is) stuffed into them look dramatic and taste delicious. If you use green it mimics the leaves, but the black taste nicer. Cut a tiny slice of the bottom of the tomato so they'll sit flat. Less work than it sounds. Make the hollow a small conical opening - goes fast w a paring knife - and the olives stick up nicely.

                            a homemade corn chip w/ avocado relish and a good sized chunk o' lobster

                            your drink sounds sexy, Obessed!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: cinnamon girl

                              I saved that corn pancake recipe; glad to read positive feedback.

                              1. re: c oliver

                                mmmm ... I hope you get a chance to try them before corn season is over, C. I just made them plain, w/o the savoury ingreds (shallots, cilantro etc.), mainly b/c I was simply curious to see how they'd be. They were also good with syrup and honey (not together!). Processing part of the corn really punches up that corn flavour.

                            2. I'm doing a bridal shower cocktail party this weekend. Here is my menu:
                              Lemon & Herb marinated olives
                              Cacio E Pepi cracker thins
                              Asparagus, snap pea & haricot vert w/ soy wasabi dipping sauce
                              cherry tomatoes caprese
                              Shrimp "martinis" w/romesco sauce (served in mini martini galsses)
                              bay scallop ceviche spoons (served in asian soup spoons)
                              watermelon gazpacho shooters (served in mini champagne glasses)
                              North Carolina style pulled pork sliders w/ grilled pineapple salsa and cherry bbq sauce
                              Baked new potatoes stuffed w/ blue cheese sour cream and bacon and w/ sour cream & caviar
                              mini reuben rolls
                              zucchini fritters w/onion chili jam
                              asian chicken dumplings

                              For drinks we will be serving a rose sangria w/ peaches and a pineapple cosmopolitan.

                              Wish me luck--I never cooked for 30 people before!!
                              BTW all mini serving pieces were found online.

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: berna

                                As a Personal Chef who does a lot of small party catering, IMHO you've got 'way too many seperate dishes for that size party. I'd reduce that to no more than 6.

                                Altogether you'll need to make about 4 bites per person x 30 people x the hours the party will run = XXX "bites of food divided among your different dishes.

                                1. re: berna


                                  would you give out the recipes for your North Carolina style pulled pork sliders w/ grilled pineapple salsa and cherry bbq sauce
                                  Baked new potatoes stuffed w/ blue cheese sour cream ??


                                  1. re: josey124

                                    No problem, josey124, but it will have to wait until Saturday. I just finished prepping everything and need some sleep before I collapse!

                                    1. re: josey124

                                      Hi Josey124--here's the recipe-better late than never! BTW, I've called it "North Carolina style" because I thought it sounded good but I don't know if it really is north carolina style.

                                      North Carolina style pulled pork sliders w/cherry bbq sauce and grilled pineapple salsa

                                      5-7 lB pork butt or cal. picnic (shoulder)
                                      Spice Rub:
                                      4 tbs garlic powder
                                      4 tbs onion powder
                                      4 tbs paprika
                                      2 tbs sugar
                                      2tsp salt
                                      2 tsp pepper

                                      Combine rub ingredients and rub all over pork (may be done overnight and refrigerated)

                                      Prepare grill:
                                      Heat gas grill on high until grates are smoking hot. Place pork on hot grates and immediately turn down to get a temperature of 225 degrees. Cook low and slow for about 10 hours, turning once halfway through cooking.
                                      Take off heat, wrap in aluminum foil and let cool. When cool enough to handle, pull out bone and then pull meat apart using 2 forks.*
                                      *I have successfully done this in the oven-same cooking temp and same amount of cooking time.

                                      Cherry BBQ Sauce:

                                      2 tubes tomato paste (I like the taste of the stuff in tubes but you can use canned)
                                      2 lg onions chopped
                                      4 cloves garlic, minced
                                      2 cans cherry pie filling
                                      2 tbs apple cider vinegar
                                      2 tbs brown sugar
                                      1 tbs worchesteshire sauce
                                      1 tbs chipotle pepper (I just use the sauce it comes packed in)
                                      1 cup chicken stock
                                      1 tbs olive oil
                                      salt and pepper to taste
                                      Saute onion in olive oil until soft and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Add minced garlic and continue to saute for 2 more minutes. Add the tomato paste and let it "roast" in the pan with the onions for several minutes then add the chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer until the sauce begins to reduce and thicken.

                                      Grilled Pineapple Salsa
                                      4 thick rings of pineapple peeled and cored
                                      1/2 jalepeno, seeded and finely chopped
                                      1/2 small red onion, finely diced
                                      3 scallions, finely sliced
                                      juice of 1 lime
                                      pinch of salt
                                      dash of olive oil

                                      Grill pineapple a minute or two on each side until just softened and grill marks appear. Remove, cool the chop finley. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix. Should be made a little ahead (overnight) to allow flavors to develop.

                                      To serve:

                                      Place a piece of lettuce on the bottom of a bun (of your choice) the place some pork topped with bbq sauce and some salsa. Or you can mix all the sauce in with the pork first and serve it like that.

                                      Well, that's it. I hope you enjoy it as much as my guests did!


                                      1. re: berna

                                        Sounds delicious, berna, but you're right, it's not North Carolina style - they would never serve a sweet, tomatoey bbq sauce. You should call it Berna's Pulled Pork sliders instead!!

                                    2. re: berna

                                      Yum - this is a better, more fleshed-out version of what I was trying to say about using a lot of our good summer produce. I love the idea of the watermelon gazpacho and zucchini fritters w onion jam - they'd be great together (as in, during the same round since I assume you're not putting everything out at once?).

                                      1. re: cinnamon girl

                                        You are correct, cinnamon girl! Thanks for the positive feedback.

                                    3. I made these wild mushroom crostini for a dinner party last weekend and they were fantastic:


                                      A couple notes - we used baguette slices for appetizer size-servings, and a lot more mushrooms than 12 ounces, and skipped the truffle oil. The thyme vinagrette is indeed beautiful and delicious, as noted in the comments on Epicurious, and makes a lot more than you need for drizzling on the crostini - I've been using it on salads all week. We had another crostini that was also a big hit, no recipe involved - goat cheese and fig jam heated under the broiler for a few minutes, then topped with slices of fresh fig.